I live in a small town on an island with nothing to do whatsoever (itís called Stornoway look it up). The majority of the time it rains so I spend my life entranced by videogames and the internet but even if I lived in the Bahamas, I wouldnít live any other way.
Iím also a student who has just finished his exams. I have an entire summer of spare time and a year before I go off to university although my grades from this year should ensure my placement, thatís right I worked hard. The one thing that drove me through my exams was Destructoid and planning different ways of spreading my own passion for videogames. I wrote a blog here and there but what I really desire to do is produce videos the only problem is my student status, there arenít many jobs and so Iím flat out broke and what little money I have goes towards more videogames. I still created a series of plans in the event that I somehow managed to obtained a capture card, Iíve contemplated an EasyCap for a while now.
Series Idea 1 - Forced Enjoyment
Due to my student status I force myself through a lot of bad games, they come cheap and fall in price quickly. I also finish all my games before I review them, see my Alone in the Dark review for proof, and so the premise of the series is simple. A playthrough of a terrible game in which I record myself experiencing each and every horrible moment. On a side note no other game may be played with the exception of the Endurance Run RPG while this series is on going.
Series Idea 2 - Endurance Run
I love me a lengthy RPG, the only problem is the amount of time it takes to see each one to completion. Why not chip away at an RPG while I record other series then? Thatís what endurance run is all about. A playthrough that could take months before it reaches its end as I slowly work through an RPG, it will probably feature for the 40 minutes of each stream.
Series Idea 3 - Is it worthy?
Some games get insanely high review scores, I discover whether or not they deserve the number behind the score.
And so you have it. This is why I believe that I deserve to win the capture card. I do have some other video ideas but these are the three that I will probably initially try. I hope that Iíve shown why I am worthy but if Iím perfectly honest why not give it to Jonathan Holmes just to see his live reaction at playing Dead Space, Persona or Saw: The Videogame. Thatís right I finished that too and got all the achievements, what a terrible weekend.
I donít want AAA games, Iíd much rather stroke off an A.
AAA blockbuster or small indie project. The contrasting in the development of games has split the industry in half. When your game is either a multimillion dollar title or one crafted through blood, sweat and passion from the confines of your bedroom walls, there isnít much room for the industry to grow and prosper.
Letís take a step back though, what actually happened to the notation of a AA game, suited towards one specific group of people that are willing to purchase the game on day one and not wait for the inevitable price drop. Recent releases have shown that the likes of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Dishonered were released to much critical and financial success while the likes of Hitman and Tomb Raider were still great games but deemed failures by their publishers.
The problem isnít the games themselves though nor in fact is it the developers, itís the industry as a whole. When every game must sell as well as the most successful game released itís no wonder why publishers are quick to call games unsuccessful. The reason that every game doesnít sell the same amount of copies as Call of Duty is obvious the people who buy and play the series annually are only likely to buy a handful of games each year. These gamers donít care about the likes of Hitman and Tomb Raider because they arenít interested in games enough to know if such games would appeal to them. Instead they re-buy the same game every year because they know that what they receive for their money is something that they like.
Games like Call of Duty can afford to spend outrageous amounts of money producing the annual edition of the game because itís a known fact at the moment that when Christmas comes and the new game is out money will flow in as if Activision is printing it in the back room. They can afford to invest so heavily in the franchise as every year more and more money comes in and the cost of development stays roughly about the same, due to the reuse of assets and game engine. Whatís more with the added bonus of DLC bringing in even more money, at less development costs and time, on a constant basis throughout the year, itís easy to say that the series sure does bring in the pennies.
But back to the likes of Tomb Raider and Dead Space, games that suffer due to the demands put upon them in an attempt to sell as many copies as the most popular game in the market. Taped on multiplayer, similar structure to gameplay mechanics and an all round generalisation of the content found within the games has caused once successful franchises to weaken and day one purchases to shrivel. And itís not because of the quality of such games that causes many to avoid the day one purchase, itís the fact that many of the games left on the shelf or next to your console are so similar that you most likely already own a game that you could easily play instead of the one begging for your money and have the same experience.
Itís simple, Dishonored and XCOM found success last year due to the fact that they were made with one area of the market in mind and budgeted accordingly. And the reason they sold so many new copies and didnít suffer from used game sales or bargain bin reductions was because they didnít choose to generalise their content. Instead they did the exact opposite and tailored their gameplay towards one specific type of individual who was ready with cash in hand to buy into the hype.
Such games are not AAA because of their lack of sales, as XCOM and Dishonored clearly sold well, but because they were made for one particular audience and not the entirety of gamers everywhere. In some ways its similar to the movie industry in that every year a film is released that the majority of the public ends up watching. Such films target the widest democratic possible and inevitably bring in a lot of money. Then there are films that attempt to replicate this which end up flopping, becoming failures in their own right and deservedly so. Finally there are the films that are marketed towards one group of people: the horror films, the fantasy films, the childrenís films. Films that do economically well as they have a target audience.
Itís why there are different genres. People have different tastes, likes and dislikes. Not every game needs to sell like Call of Duty, games like XCOM, Dark Souls and Dishonored have proved this as a fact. When you scrub off an A you get a critical success and a pocket full of cash. What more could you possibly want?
Meet some Swarmites. They're bald and small, blue and fat, and bloody fun to kill.
Conveniently Swarm is a score attack, action-platform game based around just that, as you guide a pack of 50 Swarmites through 10 stages and 2 boss fights on their quest to gather DNA strands for their Momma Swarmite.
The DNA strands that you seek are scattered throughout each of the different levels and are placed clearly in sight for you to gather as you make your to the end of the stage. You wonít tear your hair out trying to find them as youíll like pick them up by accident of with the minimum amount of effort. Occasionally you may have to sacrifice a few Swarmites to pick up strand but fret not, thereís plenty more to slaughter.
The other and much more addictive hook of Swarm is the score attack element to its gameplay. As you traverse each of the levels there are various pick ups of Swarmite food, smaller pieces of DNA, for you to gather that help boost your score and multiplier. Increasing your multiplier is essential to achieving a high score and there are a number of different ways to do so. Apart from gobbling up snacks to build your multiplier you can blow up objects which release more grub ready to be eaten or alternatively you could kill off some of Swarmites from your obedient little herd.
Sacrifice is key to attaining high scores as youíll frequently be forced to send a few Swarmites to their death just so you can hold onto your multiplier for that little bit longer to reach that last piece of precious DNA. For all your hard work, slaughtering the innocent little Swarmites, youíll be rewarded with death medals for killing enough of your Swarmites in any number of different ways and thereís satisfaction to be had upon unlocking all the gold medals, knowing that you caused the majority of those deaths on purpose.
Swarm is a charming action-platformer with an addictive score attack hook but its not without its problems though. The controls for a start take some getting used to and the lack of a proper tutorial level doesnít do the game any favours. Different mechanics are instead introduced into the gameplay across the opening levels but I found this to be a bit too vague and subsequently spent the rest of the level experimenting with the mechanic so that I could get an understanding of just what it was actually capable of. The inability to sprint is also one that detracts from the fun of the game. Instead you are forced to constantly charge and release the dash button and Iíd much have preferred a dedicated sprint over this strange alternative to a simple process. For a game base upon reaching the end of a stage in the quickest time possible it would be nice to sprint.
At itís core though Swarm is a fun and charming game let down by only a few shortcomings. Itís fun to play and you can blast through it in a couple of sittings and you may return to it frequently, just as long as you can get a friend to go head-to-head with on the leaderboards.
Having just finished Alone in the Dark Iíve come to the conclusion that this game was made for videogame designers with the purpose of showing them how not to make a survival horror game. The strange thing is that I think the game knows this as the chapter select allows you to skip to any part of the game at any moment, perfect for the classroom environment.
So what have I learned from Alone in the Dark? It just so happens that the potential lessons to be learned from this game are the main criticisms that I have with it but before I continue Iíll just say this, it starts well and there is an interesting mechanic to be found within this horrific game. The mechanic being the inventory system that limitís the total amount of items you can pick up to the pockets in your jacket. Not only that but you also must rummage through your pockets to access your inventory which is quite a clever idea indeed.
Now sit up and pay attention. Class has in session.
Our first lesson is on camera with the aim being to show you that must choose one and not try and create a hybrid between first and third person. Thatís right Alone in the Dark has camera issues in that it canít quite decide whether or not it wants to be first or third person and the simple fact is neither one works well. I often found myself switching between the two just so I could see what I was doing. Worse still is that it forces you to change perspective dependant upon the task you are doing and combat has this weird mix that just doesnít work. When using a gun you must fire and aim in first person expect when you throw an explosive object, that must be done in third person. When using a melee weapon, such as an axe or chair, you are forced into third person so if you wanted to start killing an enemy with an axe, pump a few rounds into him and then finish him off with Molotov Cocktail youíll change camera perspective three times, enough to make anyone feel a little dizzy.
For our second lesson weíll be looking at bad driving and platforming, yes thatís right it has both, and what has been done here. At various points throughout the game youíll be tasked with one or the other but letís start with driving. Cars shouldnít control and handle as if on ice or come to a complete stop at the slightest bump. Not only does this make driving them incredibly hard but it also makes the process frustrating and at times infuriating. Platforming isnít any better, it should flow from jump to jump and be a smooth process, not a awkward mess that sees you fall to your death due to your characters inability to grab a hold of a ledge or leap small gaps.
Up next is collectibles and forcing them upon the player. Throughout the entire game scattered all over the map are various roots that require burning. Theyíre not hidden in any and appear on the map just sitting there but upon reaching near to the end game youíll discover that they are in fact essential to finishing the game. You arenít forced to burn all of them, thank God, but an obvious heads up wouldíve been nice instead of the hours of subsequent hunting that you could be forced to do. Yes I am aware that I come have skipped this section using the chapter select. If you still thirst for more knowledge youíll also discover bad puzzle design, a wide variety of glitches and a ridiculous story paired with equally bad dialogue. And donít get me started on the ending.
Like I said, Alone in the Dark is a game that every videogame designer should play and every consumer should avoid. A good start, made better when put in comparison with the rest of the game, and a different take on an inventory system arenít enough for anyone to justify playing this game. Aspiring designers enjoy, the rest of us certainly wonít.
Itís crazy to think that with all the shit that went done this week that it was just an average week in the videogame industry. Studios closed down, games got both cancelled and announced, games got released some of which flopped and EA got shouted at. Like I said a typical week.
To start things off, Disney effectively shut down LucasArts and has left all current projects floating in the unknown as to whether or not theyíll ever see release. The odds are unlikely though and to add a shovel of salt to the wounds it was leaked that Star Wars 1313 was about Bobba Fett, Iíll let your imagination do the rest. Itís times like this when I ponder whether this Disney deal will actually turn out to be worth it, then I look over at the prequel trilogy sitting on the shelf and all hope returns. One day my patience will be rewarded.
EA was voted the worst company in America, one can only wonder why but it seems that the people are still bitter over Mass Effect 3ís ending, the recent Sim City fiasco and have finally grown tired of buying the same sports game every year. Peter Moore, the studioís chief operating officer, was quick to rush to his companyís defence though, informing us that the company can do better and wasnít the worst in America. That title could soon belong to Microsoft but heís just hoping to get the public back on his side in time for this years annual bombardment of sports titles.
I myself continued to work my way through Alone in the Dark on the Xbox 360 and when I say work I do mean work. Expect a review shortly but damn, just damn. I picked up Swarm from XBLA while it was on sale and Iím looking forward to digging into it, the appeal slaughtering little blue creatures sounds all the more sweeter after my recent time with Alone in the Dark. My time with Alone in the Dark has led me to craft my perfect sandwich though, a blend of peanut butter and banana that has comforted me well through my ordeal of playing the game.
Iíll be returning to the horrors of Alone in the Dark now but as a sneak preview to the review, it isnít the least bit scary.
Prototype is a guilty pleasure game. The reason youíll return isnít due to the story or the characters but the gameplay and the fun thatís to be had from terrorising innocent civilians or annihilating the armed forces and mutants that are attempting to hunt you down. At no moment will you stop and contemplate your actions, you know what your doing is wrong but thatís what makes it all the more satisfying.
You play as Alex Mercer, a man bestowed with superhero powers as a result of a horrendous, viral outbreak thatís taken hold of New York City and left it quarantined from the rest of the world. Now every district is occupied by either horrific monster or the military who are attempting to take back the city from the mutantís grasp. Mercerís own goal is clear, however, find the men responsible for the whole mess and take vengeance. Simple. There are no moral choices, no fighting for the greater good, Mercer has his priorities set and is willing to slaughter anyone who gets in his way. The plot is a thin, and the characters forgettable, but they serve their purpose well - delivering you from one gameplay scenario to the next - and highlight the area where Prototype is at itís best. Fast, frantic combat.
Mercer, is a one-man bio-army, a shape shifter, capable of demolishing anything or anyone who stands in his way. With a wide selection of available powers to be unlocked as you progress through the game and the ability to hijack tanks and helicopters or use machine guns and rocket launchers, combat never grows tiresome and is constantly opening new ways for you to deal with the enemies you encounter. You could also take a stealthy approach, as Mercer has the ability to absorb other beings and disguise himself in their form, allowing you to bypass encounters or get the jump on unsuspecting groups of enemies.
Mastery of both is essential to success in Prototype, however, as there are several occasions where the game spikes in difficult to the point of frustration. With all out combat resulting in death and pure stealth impossible, a hybrid of both is required is get through some of the tougher missions experienced towards the end of the game.
Outside of the main story thereís an overwhelming amount of side activities for you to participate in. With hundreds of collectibles scattered all over the city as well as specific targets that appear randomly and fill in some of Mercerís back story if hunted down and consumed, those with that collectible itch will surely find some satisfaction in Prototype. On top of that thereís also a good number of side missions, ranging from rooftop races to combat challenges, that will grant you a fare amount of experience and subsequently new moves and abilities. They arenít the most exciting or creative tasks but like the gameís main mission push you into scenarios that show off Prototype at itís best.
While the story may be lacklustre and the characters flat and empty, the fun thatís to be had from creating chaos and carnage on an apocalyptic level is enough to justify venturing into Prototype. Just as long as you expect to be the worlds most self-centred superhero.